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Florida basketball recruiting: Gators land elite 2019 point guard Tre Mann

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Mike White may be building a special 2019 class.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Florida vs. St. Bonaventure Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

While you were preparing for the first game of the season for the most popular Florida Gators team, the No. 2 team on the popularity list made maybe the news of the week.

After all, it’s not like Florida’s football program has landed an arguable five-star prospect in recent memory.

The Gators of the hardwood did that on Tuesday, though, as top-flight 2019 point guard Tre Mann, who hails from The Villages, surprised many with an out-of-the-blue commitment to Mike White’s program.

Mann was not necessarily expected to make a commitment this soon, nor even one to Florida. His 247Sports Crystal Ball read 50 percent for Florida and 40 percent for North Carolina, and the Gators beat out the Tar Heels, Tennessee, and Kansas for his pledge.

And it’s a really big pledge.

Mann’s height, weight, and even his position vary widely across various Internet listings — he’s 6’3” and 170 pounds per 247Sports, 6’4” per this guy and ESPN, and is listed at 6’1” by his AAU team; observers see him as either a sweet-shooting point guard or a shooting guard — but there’s little dissent about him being at least a fringe five-star player. 247Sports has him ranked as one, and ESPN and Rivals both have him as a four-star player on the edge of five-star status; the 247Sports Composite sees Mann as a four-star with just two four-star players ranked ahead of him.

It’s not hard to see why on tape. Mann has a tight handle, really good touch on both shots in the lane and his jumper, and exceptional body control, and he starred on the summer circuit this year.

Mann has also played for the venerable Each 1 Teach 1 AAU program, which makes his commitment to Florida — which hasn’t had an E1T1 alumnus on its roster in a hot minute, but has seen E1T1 players it has targeted, like Austin Rivers and Brandon Knight, head elsewhere — a potentially massive one. E1T1 pumps out talent — Mann played with Zaire Wade, son of Dwyane, this summer, along with rapidly-rising recruit C.J. Walker — and Florida having an in with it would be a very good thing.

Mann is Florida’s first commitment for the 2019 class, but is almost certain not to be the Gators’ lone recruit — nor their lone top-100 signee. Florida has pursued Walker and five-star New Jersey teammates Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine hard enough to be in the mix for all three, and is reportedly well-positioned with big men Josh Jitohboh and Omar Payne.

While it’s unclear how many players the Gators will take in 2019, Mann alone being pledged to Florida means Mike White gets to build from a very strong foundation for what might be his best recruiting class yet.